Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2010 Issue

Uncommon and Inexpensive Books from Peter L. Masi

Masi203

Some of everything from Peter L. Masi Books.


By Michael Stillman

Peter L. Masi Books has released Catalog 203. Masi's catalogues are perennially hard to describe because there seems to be a bit of everything inside. He has broken the listings down by subject, so for example, there are books on agriculture, almanacs, Americana, amusements, architecture, art, and automotive. That's just the A's. There are over 500 items here, and if you want to spend a lot of money, you will have to buy just about all of them. Nothing here is expensive, most being priced in the $8-$25 range. You never know what you will find in these catalogues, but the chances are it will be something uncommon and unexpected. Let's take a look inside.

Item 43 pertains to one of the most sensational murder cases of the 19th century. Dr. George Parkman, a physician and wealthy landowner, as well as uncle to the famous Oregon Trail writer Francis Parkman, disappeared one day. The next time he was seen, he was in pieces, quite literally. A few of those pieces were discovered under the floorboards of the office of Dr. John Webster, a chemistry professor at Harvard. Webster claimed they came from research cadavers, but a dentist identified them as coming from Parkman. Webster had borrowed money from Parkman, secured by a cabinet of minerals he also used as security for another loan. It was after Parkman came to see Webster about this matter that he disappeared. Webster was convicted, and his life ended at the end of a rope. Item 43 is the Soliloquy of Prof. John W. Webster, after the Murder of Dr. Geo. Parkman up to the time of his execution. Written by Mary G. Doe, it provides a rhyming soliloquy of Webster at the gallows, which seems hard to believe he actually said: And now I lean my head, / Upon the gallows high, / And to a gazing throng I say, / I am prepared to die. Priced at $50.

Item 116 is one of those salesman's books, a description of a book along with a how-to sales piece. The book to be sold was Discovery of the North Pole describing Frederick Cook's journey, and there's some irony here in that few people believe any more that Cook discovered the Pole. His claims were not backed up by evidence. The book also explains Robert Peary's journey the following year, the one most often cited as the first to reach the Pole, though his claims have been questioned as well. $10.

Item 264 is The Wonderful Escape, one of many religious works aimed at children offered by Masi, most, like this, from the American Tract Society. This, as are most of these tracts, are horror stories designed to scare children into what they believed to be the right behavior. This one is the story of 12 young men who drink of the evil spirits. Eight end up dead before they are 40, three in poverty, and the ringleader, an infidel who reads Thomas Paine, eventually has a conversion experience, overcomes the demon drink, and lives to write this tale. $8.

Here is a biography of a man who came up with a very clever idea we now take for granted, but solved a problem that at one time wreaked havoc on long-distance travel. Item 329 is Charles F. Dowd, A.M., Ph. D.: A Narrative of His Services in Originating & Promoting The System of Standard Time... The author was Charles N. Dowd (probably his son) and it was published in 1930. The senior Dowd was the guy who came up with the idea of time zones. Before 1883, every community set its own time, likely based on noon coming when the sun was at its high point. This was a particular problem for setting timetables for high speed train travel, as departure and arrival times for each station could be different than what corresponded to a traveler's watch. Very confusing. So, he came up with the idea of large zones where the time in all communities would be the same, followed by another, clearly marked zone where the time was exactly one hour different. It is hard to imagine travel, or telephone, radio, etc., today without Dowd's idea. $20.

Item 54 is The German Conspiracy in American Education, a 1919 book by Gustavus Ohlinger. Ohlinger was himself descended from German immigrants, but was very wary of some others who emigrated from that land, especially more recent arrivals. During the year before America joined the allies in the First World War, he wrote a book challenging the patriotism of this group. He appeared before the Senate attacking the National German-American Alliance. Even after the war, he obviously entertained suspicions, based on this book. The Toledo lawyer and law professor saw a German conspiracy to control American education. $15.

Peter L. Masi Books may be reached at 413-367-2628 or masibook@verizon.net.

You will find many of Peter L. Masi's books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Adams (Richard). <i>Watership Down,</i> FIRST EDITION, author inscription on front free end paper, folded map tipped in, original boards, dust-jacket. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bowles (John). <i>Several Prospects of the Most…la Ville de Londres, avec des Remarques Historiques fort Succinctes, qui les Regardant,</i> 20 double page engraved plates only, of 23, 1724. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Auden (W.H.). <i>Our Hunting Fathers,</i> FIRST SEPARATE EDITION, 1 of 22 copies, COPY B OF 5 PRINTED ON NORMANDIE, original patterned wrappers, Cambridge, for Frederic Prokosch, 1935. £800 to £1200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Barrie (J. M.) & Attwell (Mabel Lucie, illustrator). <i>Peter Pan & Wendy,</i> FIRST EDITION, 12 chromolithograph plates, publisher's blue cloth, original printed dust jacket, [c.1920]; and 3 others (4). £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bartolozzi (Francesco). Genius Calling Forth the Fine Arts to Adorn Manufactures and Commerce; Agriculture (Husbandry Aided by Arts and Commerce), glazed and framed. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> A collection of engraved caricatures, including Gillray ([James]) Tales of Wonder!, 1802; Rowlandson (Thomas) Sports, Smock Racing, 1811;Irish Jaunting Carr, 1814. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bennett (Charles H, illustrator). <i>Æsop’s Fables,</i> 1875; Buchanan (Robert). <i>Ballad Stories of the Affections,</i> [1866]; Douce (Francis), The Dance of Death, 1833. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Chinese Illustrations. A group of 6 Cantonese rice paper illustrations, depicting scenes of torture with different instruments, gouache, c.340 x 220mm, original wrapper boards preserved, [c. 1800]. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Dulac (Edmund). <i>The Queen of Romania, The Dreamer of Dreams,</i> 5 coloured plates, [1915]; and others illustrated by Edmund Dulac. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Fronth (Per). Xingu Chronicles, the portfolio, comprising 30 plates, photogravues in colours, each signed, dated and titled in pencil, each numbered 10/35, on wove paper, 790 x 600 x 60mm, 1997. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Pasternak (Boris). <i>Doctor Zhivago,</i> FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, original red publisher’s cloth, pictorial dust jacket, 4to, Collins & Harvill Press, 1958. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> 13 sepia photographs of visitors to the Thermes Nationaux d’Aix-les-Bains, c. 150 x 105mm, c.1890 (12). £300 to £400
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000

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